Say goodbye to clipping out at stoplights: This Dutch technology could have you making every green light on your ride route.
Developer Springlab recently introduced a test version of Flo—claimed to be “the first personal bike traffic light in the world”—into the commuter-heavy town of Utrecht, The Netherlands, where 33 percent of people say that that bikes are their primary transportation. As a cyclist approaches the light (located at the intersection of Jan van Galenstraat and Kardinaal de Jongweg), Flo detects their riding speed, then calculates whether the rider should speed up, maintain pace, or slow down in order to make the light.
This advice is conveyed through cute animal-shaped signals: A bunny means speed up; a turtle means slow down; and a cow means you won’t make the light no matter what you do, so you might as well slow to a crawl and stay clipped in. (From commuters to roadies to couriers, there are a lot of cyclists using roads. Learn about all of them in Bike Tribes, published by Rodale!)
“Waiting for traffic lights is the number one cycling frustration in The Netherlands,” says Springlab Chief Jan-Paul de Beer. “We have gotten lots of good reviews from cyclists… When people use it, they already miss it at other traffic lights. I think that’s the best compliment we can get. Even the cow is popular. People find it funny when they get the cow, even if it means they have to wait.”
Watch the video here for a better understanding of how the Flo system works:
Flo joins a growing body of projects making traffic flows better for cyclists, much of which actually deals with adjusting stoplights’ timing. In Copehagen, 380 bike-friendly stoplights are perfectly adjusted to help cyclists going about 20kmph run into only green lights. And in Aarhus, Denmark, cyclists have tested carrying RFID sensor-equipped tags that trigger stoplights in their favor.
In light of Flo’s overall positive reception by the 600-odd cyclists who’ve used it, Springlab is installing a Flo model in Antwerpen, Belgium, in two months—and de Beer says introducing Flo in major cities beyond Europe (like New York City and Beijing) is a goal.
“Our mission is to make cycling more fun worldwide,” says de Beer. “Especially in big cities where the municipality wants to stimulate the transition from cars to bikes. If people can stay in a flow when cycling in big cities, we can improve the experience a lot and make cycling more attractive, which is needed for more healthier, sustainable, and pleasant cities.”